Beatles' Yellow Submarine resurfaces as graphic novel

The Beatles' Yellow Submarine will be released in graphic novel form by cartoonist Bill Morrison.
The Beatles' Yellow Submarine will be released in graphic novel form by cartoonist Bill Morrison. PHOTO: EMI RECORDS

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Yellow Submarine, the 1968 animated fantasy inspired by the music of the Beatles, is returning to theatres on Sunday (July 8) for a limited time to celebrate its 50th anniversary. After that milestone comes another: the Aug 28 release of a Yellow Submarine graphic novel, by cartoonist Bill Morrison.

Morrison, a co-founder of Bongo Comics, whose titles include The Simpsons, and the editor of Mad Magazine, has been working on the project for 20 years. Just before Yellow Submarine turned 30, he began writing and drawing an adaptation of the animated film for Dark Horse Comics. "I got about 25 pages done before they called me and asked me to stop because the deal fell through," he said. Was it the work of the Blue Meanies, the music-hating creatures from the film?

If it was, they didn't prevail. Last year, Morrison was approached by Titan Comics, which acquired the rights and asked him to finish the book. When he initially took on the project, he said, "as a fan of the film and a fan of the Beatles' music, I didn't really understand why a Beatles fan would want to read a faithful adaptation.

"I had to figure out a way to bring something unique that the film could not," he continued.

Morrison generally eschewed the typical rectangle-shaped panels of most comic book layouts for pages that are more like free-flowing collages inspired by psychedelic posters from the 1960s.

The 128-page hardcover book, which has a cover price of US$29.99 (S$40.89), was a team effort. Morrison credits his wife, Kayre,who watched the film with him over and over, "making sure we got the dialogue right".

He also worked with Aditya Bidikar, the letterer; two inkers, Andrew Pepoy and Tone Rodriguez; and a colorist, Nathan Kane, a colleague from Bongo, who applied watercolour techniques inspired by the film's backgrounds. "He brought a level of art to the pages that aren't really in the pencils and inks," Morrison said.